Monday, March 9, 2009
Last night we foodbuzz food bloggers journeyed from afar to gather at Brasa on 3rd Ave in Seattle. Our hostess blogger Nurit reserved us a large swath of tables in the bar (which turned out to be an unnecessary move considering that we were only joined by two other parties in the entire restaurant!).
Before I get to the main event, I should first apologize to said hostess for failing to email photos for her post. I fully intended on getting them there this morning, but that was before my baby woke up about 89 times coughing in the night. I spent most of the morning in the doctor's office and the pharmacy. Somehow, I just didn't get to sending those pics.
Brasa is a Spanish cuisine restaurant owned by Tamara Murphy and Bryan Hill (Tamara also owns the Elliot Bay Cafe in the bookstore). It is a darkly lit, warmly colored dining room and bar (which, I'm told, is packed out on weeknights). Located about 6 blocks north of Union Street on 3rd, it is advisable not to park your car in the 2nd and Union parking garage unless you like long cold walks down questionable 2nd street alone in the dark.
Although a few men were included in the invite, the group that showed up turned out to be all of the feminine persuasion. I arrived about 15 minutes late (I know, crazy for me to get there late!) expecting that the group would slowly dwindle in. However, I was surprised that I was nearly the last one there. This landed me a seat at the end of the tables.
On my left, there was a reunion between Seattle Tall Poppy and the GastroGnome...lively ladies with a lot to say and catch up on. On my right, were Kooky Culinary and Puget Sound Cookery...perhaps the complete opposite in personality to the women on my left. These two were friendly, but definitely on the quiet side.
Of course, I came totally unprepared as per normal Julie style. No business cards to hand out. No pre-thought list of questions for my fellow bloggers. The only thing I'd managed to prepared for was the menu which I'd looked up in order to narrow down my choices. But I was keeping an open mind for whatever "something special" that the chef might throw our way (did I miss it or was there "nothing special"?).
Our savvy server kept our goblets filled with either a red or a white, undoubtedly helping the conversations flow from their halting beginnings. It did feel a bit like the first day in the junior high cafeteria all over again. Questions ranged from "Why do you blog?" (uh...for blinding fame, of course) to "What restaurant do you take out-of-town guests to?" (those are few and far between, but Zeek's Pizza, Pho Express, and Cafe Julie..as in my home cooking...are the usual).
The conversations made me realize a couple of things. First, this group was very well traveled. Most Asian destinations were covered in just the 4 women closest to my end of the table. Secondly, I don't get out much! My knowledge of Seattle restaurants is mostly limited to reviews I've read in various magazines.
But let's get to the food, shall we? I ordered the Fig Pizzetta for starters--a small pizza with figs, chevre cheese, serrano ham, sprinkled with thyme. It was pretty good, but I could have done with a bit less thyme (it was a bit "medicinal" as Seattle Tall Poppy pointed out).
This was an everyone-shares event. So I also got to try the Octopus (okay, a little chewy, but hey, it's octopus),
the pitas and hummus (not bad, but I'm not switching from the Meze's hummus), bone marrow with fig jam (yum, nice and salty),
and the curried mussels (the sauce was amazing!!). Go for the mussels for sure.
For the main course, I thought I should order something very Brasa-esque. Portuguese Pig or Paella. Kooky Culinary and I went for the pig (half-portions are ample). Several chunks of slow roasted pig sat upon half of a roasted yukon gold potato. These were swimming in a red paprika sauce garnished with a few clams. Honestly, I was expecting amazing. How can you go wrong with pig? Well, you can dry it out. My pig-mate and I discovered that it took a dousing in the paprika sauce to moisten it up. And I know that paprika sauce is supposed to be warm and savory, but this is pig we're talking about and a little sweet would have been nice. Next time, I'm getting the Lamb Burger on the Happy Hour menu ($7!!!). It had a great flavor and was decidedly not dry!
After our dinner dishes were collected, several of the women made a dash to the W.C. I took the opportunity to steal one of the chairs on the other end of the table. This is where I met the hostess, Nurit from 1 Family, Dianasaur, The Pink Hobart, Cakespy, Diggin Food, and one other who's name is escaping me (sorry lady from the coast!!).
These women were all enjoyable to talk to, warm and friendly. We got some gardening tips from Diggin Food, some "sweet" stories from Cakespy, cooking class questions from the super sweet Dianasaur, and kid swaps with Nurit.
Spanish donuts turned out to be churros with a chocolate dipping sauce and maybe the most interesting dessert on the menu. The standards like trio of gelato, creme brulee, chocolate cheesecake all made an appearance.
I'd say that the highlight was meeting Tamara towards the end. She shared her recent "Life of a Pig" experience which was fun to hear. Thanks to Nurit for arranging this event!